High-intensity interval training sees an increased popularity these days. This type of training is commonly called HIIT workouts. They involve repeated bouts of high-intensity effort which is followed by various recovery times. The periods of intense work can range from 5 seconds to 8 minutes long and they are done at 80% to 95% of an individual’s maximum number of times their heart will beat in a minute without overexerting themselves. The recovery periods are usually performed at 40% to 50% of a person’s estimated maximal heart rate, and they last equally as long as the workout periods. The workout continues with the alternating work and relief periods which can take from 20 to 60 minutes.
The Benefits of HIITHIIT training wouldn’t be recommended if it didn’t have some amazing benefits. Here are some of them:
- Improves blood pressure
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Gets you in the shape, improving your aerobic and anaerobic fitness
- Improves insulin sensitivity (making your exercising muscles to use glucose more readily for fuel to make energy)
- Improves cholesterol profiles
- Reduces abdominal fat and body weight while you maintain muscle mass
How and Why HIIT Training Became so Popular?HIIT training can be used by many individuals with special conditions including obesity and diabetes, and can be modified for any fitness levels. HIIT workouts can be used for all types of exercises like walking, swimming, cycling, aqua training, elliptical cross-training, as well as group exercise classes. HIIT type of activities have similar fitness benefits that continuous endurance workouts provide but in shorter periods of time. The reason for this is that HIIT workouts tend to burn more calories than normal workouts, most specifically after the workout. “EPOC” is the name for the post-exercise period, and it stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. This session takes about 2 hours after an exercise round, and its purpose is to restore the body to the pre-exercise levels, and thus using more energy. HIIT workouts have a vigorous contractile nature; this means that EPOC will tend to be modestly greater, adding a percentage of 6 to 15% more calories to the overall workout energy expenditure.
How to Develop a HIIT Exercise Program?If you want to create a HIIT program for yourself, you have to consider the intensity, frequency, and duration of the work intervals and the length of the recovery intervals. You must make sure that the intensity during the HIIT work interval is above 80% of your estimated maximal heart rate. If you want a more specific indicator, think about it like you must have a workout interval that makes it feel like you are exercising “hard” to “very hard.” The recovery interval must have an intensity of 40-50% of your estimated maximal heart rate. This is going to be a physical activity in which you are going to feel very comfortable, in order to help you recover and prepare for the next workout interval. Take care of the relationship between the workout and recovery. Studies have shown that a specific ratio of exercise is going to recover and improve the different energy systems of your body. Take this example: a ratio of 1:1 is going to be a 3-minute hard work (or high intensity) round followed by a 3-minute recovery (or low intensity) round. The 1:1 interval workouts can range about 3, 4 or 5 minutes and are followed by the same time in recovery. “Spring interval training method” is another type of popular HIIT training program. With this type of protocol, you do about 30 seconds of ‘sprint or near full-out effort,’ which will be followed by 4 to 4.5 minutes of recovery. You can repeat this combination of exercise for 3 to 5 times. This method has shorter bouts (30 seconds with sprint interval training).
What Safety Concerns You Must Consider with HIIT TrainingIndividuals who have been living rather sedentary lifestyles or periods of physical inactivity are going to have an increased coronary disease risk when they decide to do high-intensity exercise. Cigarette smoking, hypertension, diabetes (or pre-diabetes), family history, abnormal cholesterol levels and obesity can increase the risk. You should talk to a physician first, to make sure that you are medically cleared from these conditions before starting HIIT or any type of exercise training. Before you consider beginning HIIT training, you are encouraged to establish a foundation level of fitness. The foundation is referred to as a “base fitness level.” Consistent aerobic training (3 to 5 times a week for 20 to 60 min per session at a somewhat hard intensity) can become your base fitness level. Do this for several weeks, and you will produce muscular adaptations, which improve oxygen transport to the muscles. Remember that you must have an established appropriate exercise form and muscle strength before you engage in regular HIIT to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury. Age, gender and fitness level are important matters to participate in HIIT training but another key to safely do these type of exercises is to modify the intensity of the work interval to a preferred challenging level. Safety should always be the most important priority, and people must focus more on finding their own optimal training intensities as opposed to keeping up with other individuals.
How Many Times a Week You Should do a HIIT Workout?HIIT workouts are known to be more exhaustive than traditional exercises, meaning that a longer recovery period is going to be needed. You can start with one HIIT training workout a week while doing other steady state workouts. When you feel like you are ready for more challenge, add a second HIIT workout a week but make sure that you spread the HIIT workouts throughout the week.
Make Your HIIT Exercise ScheduleA well-rounded physical activity program should have aerobic exercise and strength training exercise, but you don’t have to do them in the same session; this blend is going to maintain and improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness along with overall health and function. Doing regular physical activity is going to provide more health benefits than sporadic, high-intensity workouts, so make sure you take only the exercises you are going to enjoy and workouts that you can include in your schedule. We recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (working hard enough to break a sweat, but still able to carry on a conversation) for five days a week, or some more vigorous activity three days a week. You can combine moderate and vigorous-intensity activities to meet this recommendation. Here are some examples of typical aerobic exercises:
- Stair climbing